[Photo by Jeremy Saffer]
At this timeUpcoming seventh album, Mother, is so tightly locked that even front woman Maria Brink can’t tell us much about it.
“I bring a little heaven / I bring a little hell”, Brink alternately sings on the chorus of their lead single, “The In-Between”. But she revealed to AltPress that ‘heavy’ is just part of the record, which will expand and reset fans’ expectations for the dazzling metal crew.
The enigmatic singer let us into her mysterious world for a chat about the new record and how their rescheduled tour 2020 will likely make the group the biggest year yet.
Brink spoke with AP about the benefits of meditation and self-medication, the role of women in metal shaping, and her total of 180 – her first solo performance behind a piano.
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How would you describe yourself outside of music?
I am like a cat: I hide in corners, in the shade. I have dimmers on all the lights in my house. I am a super-withdrawn type of person. I don’t know if the word is ‘shy’, but I really like my privacy.
By doing what I do, I give so much of my soul, heart and energy. And I like balancing it with my privacy, you know? And I think there is something so great about mystery. It lets your imagination work on the exciting things.
You’re a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails, who [recently] have been announced as an inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
They are one of my all time favorites. I have so much respect for [Trent Reznor, NIN mastermind] on every level. I like his soundtracks. Everything he does visually [musically]. He is so intelligent. He is a great source of inspiration for me. Hats off for the whole day.
You have many points of sale. You sing. You paint. If you are not on tour and are not working on a record, how do you determine what you will achieve that day?
I have a routine. I am a hardworking woman. I am a very passionate woman with my work. I could become obsessed with it. Some days I have to be honest. I do yoga. And I meditate.
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What is your self-care regime on the go?
My bus is everywhere crystals and tapestries. Candles in the bus and pillows all over the floor. I do yoga [s] meditate. I create a feeling around me that is peaceful, a refuge even as we roll down the highway. It keeps me centered and it keeps me whole. I get a lot of massages to keep me healthy and strong. I drink a lot of water and smoke my herb.
Smoke, no edibles?
I smoke. You can’t have that much control over edibles. For me it is as a medicine. I’ve had a lot of fear all my life. I used to take all kinds of medicines. I am not bothered by anything anymore. Herb really helps calmness. I am OCD and I am becoming neurotic and I cannot stop. It really makes me cold. I never actually tried other drugs.
What does meditation do for your creative practice?
It helps me calm down, stop and connect. To let go of everything and more recently, for example when you have opened too many apps on your phone. But then you turn off all apps and turn it off. I have to shut down. I also go for a walk in the forest. It really centers me. And then I can be healthy and strong. I also always worry about the people I love. I am one of those women: I love my son, my family and work.
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This will be your seventh album in almost 15 years. In this era that is a productive production level. Have you been so productive despite being a parent or because of it?
I think my son motivates me to push hard and be the example, to show him that he can make anything he wants to create. I want to be an example for him. My son is also very artistic. He opens an art gallery. I work very hard to balance my personal life and my work life.
And you have always had to put bread on the table. You never took it easy for a year.
The problem with this band is we have a big, gigantic vision. We are so passionate about the visual show that we put all our money on ourselves. We really believe in taking it to that next level [s] and making the shows spectacular. We did everything we could. And we are ready to come back now.
How much can you say about the show?
It’s a co-headliner tour, but we’re the last one every night. We bring our production. We are very excited.
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Is it a brand new show?
It is a lot. There is new choreography, new songs [and] new lights. All kinds of new surprises. And we play Red Rocks [the legendary outdoor location in Colorado] for the first time. It is huge for us. So we are trying to build something special. We want to record that.
Will your backup dance group The Blood Dancers still be part of it? Is that preference for them?
We used to say “Blood Girls”. Lately we’ve been calling them our blood goddesses. [It’s] the same with me: I’m a woman now. When I entered In This Moment I was still a girl and I found myself. And now we are all Ladies and strong. So we like that word more.
In the social media of metal, there is a growing conversation about the expression ‘female front is not a genre’.
I think music is music. It is so crazy. It is not a genre. It’s all different aspects, just like any other song would be. It’s just a matter of what energy the song is.
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In 2007, you were part of the Hottest Chicks In Metal tour along with headliners Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and others. Looking back, that was one base way to present things?
I mean, their concept was always “hottest” like in “what’s hot now, what’s happening” – not necessarily “hot” like in the visual. But who I am now is where I am now and how I hold myself now. And my [sense of] dignity has really grown. And I have learned to make myself stronger. For me personally, I probably wouldn’t do that now. But then I was there. I got attention. And I didn’t think it affected me as much as I do now.
What is the value of a production?
It’s just a matter of what’s good for our band. Some bands don’t need all that production – what they do is perfect. I have always loved to create … I want to create unique images that no one has seen before. The images evoke emotion, just like the music. Even if you muffled to the music, you would still feel those feelings. They both play a very important role for me.
How involved are you in the choreography and visual aspects of the band?
I just directed our new music video, ‘The In-Between’. Internship concepts you see, I brainstorm and uncover and involve Chris [Howorth, guitarist].
When we make an album, I [the band] also show a visual layout for the music and what I want it to be. All colors, what I feel. I show them photos of swamps or various things [showing how] it will feel. Chris makes me ride artistically. I come up with all that stuff.
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What was the division of labor in the creative process for this album?
It all merges together. Sometimes when I write and make the album, I think, “It would be cool if I was 30 feet above the stage.” It all works together.
There is no standard way in which it comes together. Sometimes I sit at my piano, I think of something and we turn it into a song. Or sometimes someone writes a very cool sample or guitar thing. And I say, “That’s beautiful,” and I write on top of that. It is never a complete song and that is what I sing about. We work more from a stripped-down point of view. And then we build around it.
This is your sixth album with producer Kevin Churko. What does he bring to your work?
He is truly an exceptional man [s] an exceptional artist. The way he makes things sound. He surrounds you with the sound and get within of it. He is so creative – he and his son, Kane Churko. They really are a duo now.
Your vocal style has a very physical dimension with the grating parts and the screams. Do you last save the hard times?
You deal with different songs in different ways. I record some songs from start to finish. I want an organic, full thing. Other, I could adjust several sections. But I actually have a very strong voice. I’m really lucky: I can scream for a very long time, as long as it takes, as often as necessary, until my producer feels he has the emotional hold. He wants to get goosebumps.
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Why has the album been delayed?
We have not postponed the album. We postponed the single. Our tour would not begin until March. So we just wanted to format it all up, so it made sense how it worked out.
What do you think is about “The In-Between”?
I think it is about the different sides of myself. I have this extreme duality. I have a side that is loving and soft, an angelic side. Then I have a side that piles up, and I have to let go, a dark side that I love and I like … my fire, hell. So a balance between the two. People always want the hell side of myself, and it is this back and forth between everything and how I should be like that.
You played ‘Legacy’ live.
That song was really a sacred song for us, really special. My grandfather died just before I started making the album. My grandfather played the role of father in my life – I didn’t have a father … I had a father, but he wasn’t there. So it was him. And he was also the father of my son, who had no father. So all football games, everything – he was one of those exceptional men who was a World War II veteran, a Marine [s] a hero for the whole family.
And just before that Chris’ father, who was his hero and also in the army, died. And right after we got to the studio, Randy [Weitzel], my other guitarist, to be father passed. So we all had this moment when we mourned but also created at the same time. So each of them also does a solo on the song for their dads.
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What else can you say about Mother?
I am very excited about the entire album. It is a new level. It gives strength. It makes you want to keep your head high. I have guest singers. We treat a number. It is fire. It is very powerful. And it is an honor to come together with these beautiful, powerful, talented, diverse people.